At the end of the fall semester of 2009, I walked out of my art classroom and heard a Phillip Glass-like soundtrack from the darkened auditorium on the other side of the building. I stood by the side door watching an amazing piece of film making, telling any of my students who were coming to ask me questions about their projects that they were just gonna have to wait a minute. Once the lights came up, I ran into the auditorium and in front of the entire music appreciation class asked loudly, “What the hell was that? That was amaaaazzzing!” Stoned college students yawned and my colleague Michael Daugherty handed me the dvd.
Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of balance.
Here’s a clip…watch it from the beginning and be patient with it.
I wish the person on youtube had edited it a bit differently because there are some really nice pacing things that happen in the next section, but oh well, you get the point. The director made this movie as a political statement. Essentially he wanted to contrast nature and urban activity and how out of touch humans are with their surroundings. The first time I showed it to Shannon on our television (side note: It must be awesome to be married to me. “Hey honey can you come in here and watch this forty minute meditative video piece with a repeating score? How does it make you feel?” I’m sure she has nothing better to do. Ugh.) she said she found it cool at first, but ultimately depressing. Score one for the filmmaker.
After watching it a half dozen times (I have no life) I can see where she is coming from, but I see it differently. First, especially on the big screen, the film is gorgeous to look at it. I can’t feel depressed looking at something so stimulating. Second, it makes me think of the powers of ten project here and here. Essentially everything becomes a matter of perspective and scale. Take the grand central station scene. This movie was made between 1975 and 1982 and released in ’83. It stands to reason that at least some of the people in that scene are now dead. This is at least one record of their existence. Speeding them up makes the viewer look at humans as bees swarming a hive, but taken in real time each one of these people were live, thinking, feeling human beings with ranges of emotions and experiences. So many people doing the same thing, but to each one of them that experience is unique. We call things cliche because everyone has heard about the emotion or experience thousands of times. But when it happens to you…well that is something special. So onto some cliches:
1. Childbirth is hard
My wife is much tougher than me. All through our childbirth class, Karin referred to the act of natural childbirth as a marathon. I call bullshit. Childbirth for Shannon was 10 marathons stacked back to back. The doctor broke her water at around 1:30 on Friday and by 4:30 she was in full blown labor. She labored naturally until around 7 or 8 the next morning when she was fully dilated. It was incredibly difficult for her because Miles was turned the wrong way, causing her to experience excruciating pains in her back the whole time. She pushed for 3 hours. Exhausted, we decided to try an epidural. She rested until around 3 in the afternoon and pushed again for another hour and a half before the doctor said the baby just wasn’t coming. So, with our birth plan completely annihilated, it was c-section time. Miles was healthy, but Shannon was wrecked. Pyrrhic victory, I guess.
2. Children are miracles
I know what you’re saying, this kid made you a sappy little (insert your favorite pejorative). Yeah, what can you do? It is completely surreal to me that one day this person isn’t here, the next day he is. Its something any two idiots can do (sex, how babies are made…no? ok, when a man loves a woman they lie next to each other and, well, ask your parents) and then this functional human being comes out 9-10 months later. Its weird and amazing. I am in control of how this kid experiences the world. Every experience is new. My mind is blown.
3. Children are hard
All you people feeling baby fever, let me drop some knowledge on you. This kid does not stop. DOES. NOT. STOP. Crying, going to the bathroom, needing, you name it. He doesn’t give a shit what you want. Other parents will tell you “It’s all worth it.” Maybe. I say it’s 60/40. I can count at least 5 times when I wish he would disappear. In the words of Andre 3000, I’m just being honest.
4. Moving is not fun
I feel so fortunate to have friends and family. Everyone who helped us move is a Dorothy Mantooth in my mind. I owe you all.
5. Grad school is hard
Ten weeks, 18 books plus a metric buttload (it’s science) of articles to read and papers on top of it. Whatever. It’s my own damn fault.
Lets console ourselves with pictures and videos of Miles. It’s all worth it.